Frederick County Public Schools is taking Maryland’s new legislation in stride when it comes to making sure that school drinking water is safe to consume, says FCPS Chief Operating Officer Paul Lebo. “FCPS has voluntarily conducted lead testing for many years to identify and replace fixtures to ensure safe drinking water," Lebo says.
The new regulation requires the school system to test or re-test all drinking water outlets during a single school year and while schools are in session. Testing is not required for utility sinks, those used for hand washing, or in science labs, all of which FCPS will label to clarify that water from those sources is not for drinking. FCPS will also post signs at any faucet that has not been sampled to ensure it’s not used for drinking. Water from these faucets remains safe for washing.
Although Maryland school systems had the option to use a process that involves three tiers of testing over the next three years (in order of high to low priority based on students’ ages and a school’s date of construction), FCPS will begin sampling in October and complete it in the 2018-2019 school year, Lebo says. If any water source has more than 20 parts per billion of lead, schools must discontinue its use for drinking and then remediate the situation. If this happens, FCPS will also notify the local health department as well as state agencies and send email notice to parents and staff.
Schools served by well water are not included in the state’s new regulation because they are already covered by other legislation. FCPS has conducted lead testing at those schools for decades and will incorporate any new, applicable processes in concert with the new regulation to have a uniform process.
FCPS has worked to assure adequate drinking fountains are present to serve the school populations and to provide locations for students to refill bottles brought from home.